Today, the best construction companies organize, secure, and share their documents using a document management system (DMS). They strive to be as efficient as possible with their valuable resources and control financial outlays. A sophisticated cloud-based application explicitly designed for the construction industry will aid in decision-making, team communication, project management, job scheduling, budget management, cost control, and regulatory compliance.
But, are all DMS systems created equally? No. Let us look at the seven pillars that make up a quality, controlled document management system.
Having robust security protocols is crucial for your construction document management system. Construction projects can create a staggering amount (and variety) of documentation. A locked file cabinet and hard drives used to be the way to secure documents. Not anymore. Digital “paperwork” must be securely stored to protect document integrity and revision history, especially in the age of cloud storage.
Another critical pillar is proper accessibility. A controlled DMS ensures the right people in the right roles have proper access to documents at the right time. Construction is an approval-heavy industry. Establishing sound workflow policies and procedures will control who can access, approve, and change documents.
Today, it seems there are as many construction applications as there are companies. With the variety of contractors and subcontractors on any given job, construction documents could be stored on a wide variety of platforms. A quality DMS should support a wide variety of files and documents, regardless of their file extensions.
Effective document management involves communicating among all the construction project’s stakeholders. Automated communication is an essential pillar of a quality DMS. Notification messages at the appropriate time to the correct people (with follow-up reminders) greatly enhance communication efficiency. Since communication technology is constantly changing, the DMS should also keep pace.
- Usability on Mobile Devices
Accessing handheld devices on construction projects is now the norm. However, an electrical subcontractor working stories up on scaffolding cannot easily take his tablet up with him; he wants to use his smartphone. Another pillar of a cloud-based DMS should be compatible with all devices and a user interface that is easy to access in the field without much searching.
- Indexing and Retrieval
Another pillar of a quality DMS should be an intelligent search feature. An intelligent search feature allows you to pinpoint a document (and revision) you need quickly, without digging through a file structure. The DMS should be able to input documents from various sources, including paper scans, emails, faxes, image captures, audio, and video, to name just a few. Once uploaded, the DMS will use metadata to index and store documents, yielding better search results.
Another pillar not always considered is application scalability. When considering a quality DMS, a company should look beyond its current needs and find a system that can accommodate business growth and adapt to changing technologies.
A controlled construction document management system will have many features that will enhance productivity and control costs. If your company is considering such an application, create a list and rank the most critical elements that solve the most significant issues you are experiencing.